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MVA cracks: ‘Sidelined’, Congress MLAs set to meet high command with complaints

"The Shiv Sena and NCP are clearly dominating the functioning of the government as well as outside. The Congress is getting secondary treatment," a senior Congress minister said.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai |
Updated: April 30, 2022 11:11:10 pm
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari (centre) and CM Uddhav Thackeray. (Express Archives)

The growing fissures within the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition in Maharashtra are set to echo in Delhi, with all the 44 Congress MLAs in the state planning to travel to Delhi in the coming week to meet party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on the matter.

The Indian Express reported earlier this week about how the Shiv Sena and NCP, allies of the Congress in the MVA, were squabbling. The third wheel in the coalition as the party with the least number of seats, the Congress appears to have also decided to pull its weight.

Said a senior Congress minister: “The Shiv Sena and NCP are clearly dominating the functioning of the government as well as outside. The Congress is getting secondary treatment.”

Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole, who on Wednesday wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray seeking effective implementation of the MVA’s Common Minimum Programme “in letter and spirit”, downplayed the meeting of the party MLAs with the high command, and stressed that the coalition was “strong and going steady”.

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At the same time, he again talked of the need to enforce the CMP, and added: “To keep the BJP out of power, a concerted approach by all like-minded secular parties, led by the Congress, is inevitable.”

Patole’s reference clearly was to a resolution adopted unanimously at the state NCP Youth Convention last week recommending party supremo Sharad Pawar’s name as the chairperson of the UPA to fight the BJP, and suggesting that the Congress cede space to regional parties, as Pawar watched. The current head of the UPA is Sonia Gandhi.

Asked whether Pawar had objected to this proposal, Ravikant Varpe, working president of the Maharashtra NCP youth wing, had said: “There was no opposition from our party chief…he didn’t say anything.”

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Insiders in the Congress admitted this would be among the issues raised by the MLAs with Sonia. Congress chief spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “The Congress is the only party which has acceptance across India. Sonia Gandhi is the most acceptable leader, who is suitable to lead the UPA. NCP president Pawar will also give consent to Gandhi’s leadership.”

Apart from the show of support for Sonia after the NCP muscle-flexing, the MLAs are also expected to raise concerns regarding funds for development of projects in Western Maharashtra. Congress MLAs believe NCP leaders have cornered the funds, ignoring backward regions like Vidarbha and Marathwada.

In the recently concluded Budget Session, BJP leader and former CM Devendra Fadnavis had rubbed this “disparity” in, saying: “Of the total budget of Rs 5,48,777 crore, the NCP’s share is 57.36%, the Congress’s 26.27% and the Shiv Sena’s 16.43%.”

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State BJP president Chandrakant Patil accuses the NCP of using funds for development projects “to consolidate its support and upper hand in Maharashtra”.

State Congress leaders said the central leadership is on the same page as them on the issue. A senior general secretary said: “The central leadership has often urged the CM to strictly adhere to the Common Minimum Programme.”

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First published on: 01-04-2022 at 06:29:15 pm

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